Abbey hosts international military chaplains

Wednesday, 24th August 2022

Abbey hosts international military chaplains

Westminster Abbey welcomed a group of international military chaplains to a meeting St Margaret’s Church on Tuesday 23rd August.

Held as part of the annual conference of Catholic military chaplains’ association the Apostolat Militaire International, the meeting considered the vital role played by military chaplains in supporting individual soldiers and the armed forces more widely.

The spiritual dimension of military service

The chaplains, representing 13 countries, were welcomed to St Margaret’s by the Abbey’s Canon Theologian, the Reverend Dr James Hawkey, who gave a lecture on the relationship between Church and State in England, and led a discussion on how the Church engages with the armed forces.

General The Lord Dannatt, a former head of the British Army, spoke of the moral and spiritual dimension of military service, and of the challenges faced by commanders in living the Gospel in a military environment.

Paying tribute to the Unknown Warrior

The conference concluded with a visit to the Grave of the Unknown Warrior - one of the most poignant memorials in the Abbey which stands as a remarkable tribute to the fallen of the First World War and more recent conflicts – and with prayers in the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor.

Canon Hawkey said:

‘Westminster Abbey has a long tradition of engaging with, and supporting, a wide variety of public service. Our relationship with the Armed Forces of the Crown is a special one, and it’s a delight to welcome a group of colleagues from a wider European context as we think together about how the Gospel engages with the reality of human culture, and the challenges and opportunities of our time.’